Obama at AMA: Supports market-based health plan

AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain

AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain

President Obama told the delegates and other attendees today at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association that he supports a market-based national health plan in which the federal government offers an insurance plan that competes with private insurers. As he said earlier in the week in a speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Obama feels a government-run insurance option is necessary “because if the private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it will keep them honest and help keep prices down.”

Such a plan — predicated on defending the profits of the insurance industry — will fail to provide high-quality health care to all, and it will do little to reduce or eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. The profit interests of the insurance industry will continue to drive what services are provided and to whom, rather than the health needs of the insured. At best, a government insurance plan that is just one among many insurers in an insurance-exchange market will act only to force a de facto cap on profits.

Instead, we need a government-run, single-payer health plan that distributes funding based on the health needs of the population. Because the funding would derive from a single source, administrative costs would be vastly reduced. A single-payer could demand medications at cost and enforce provision of proven therapies and interventions, thus helping to ensure provision of high-quality care to all. In such a manner, racial and ethnic health inequities would be reduced.

Health care is a public good, a human right to be shared by all — not a commodity to be sold at a profit.

That’s my two cents on President Obama’s AMA speech. What do you think?

Monday, June 15th, 2009 at 19:06